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A Time to Dance

The Charles Sullivan Fund for the Arts and Humanities, in association with the Community College of Rhode Island Players, will present “A Time to Dance,” a magical fusion of storytelling and creative dance written and performed by Libby Skala, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16, in the Bobby Hackett Theater at the college’s Knight Campus, 400 East Ave. Admission is free. "

Skala has charmed audiences over the last few years with her internationally acclaimed solo play “LiLiA!” about her Oscar-nominated grandmother, Lilia Skala. Now she will present “A Time to Dance” about Lilia’s younger sister, Austrian modern dancer and award-winning dance therapy pioneer Elizabeth “Lisl” Polk. Skala interweaves spoken word, improvised movement and creative dance to portray her great-aunt, who dances to her own dazzling stories of a turbulent life spanning the 20th century.

In addition to her performance, Skala also will conduct a participatory acting workshop at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 15, in the Bobby Hackett Theater, which also is free and open to the public.

In “A Time to Dance,” Polk, born in 1902 Vienna, survives two world wars, immigrates to New York, endures the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and dances the Macarena on her hundredth birthday. The daughter of a Catholic mother and Jewish father, she deals with the conflicting forces of anti-Semitism in her own home as she dreams of becoming a famous dancer. Met with opposition from an autocratic father, she finds unexpected ways to fulfill her dream while struggling to emerge from the shadow of her famous older sister. This intriguing modern dancer unexpectedly steals the show, proving herself to be the riotous and controversial star of her own life.

Polk’s broad professional background marked her as one of the country’s authorities in teaching the joy of movement to emotionally, physically and mentally disabled children. She had a long and rich career, teaching dance at every age level from preschoolers to adult education classes and in settings ranging from housing projects to college campuses. Her early music and dance studies included not only ballet, but Dalcroze eurhythmics, modern dance and gymnastics.

She performed as a concert dancer and later acquired a physical education license, enabling her to launch her own dance studio in Austria. In the United States, she pioneered creative dance and worked with children at the Children’s Center for Creative Arts at Adelphi University, as well as in her own studio. She was a charter member of the American Dance Therapy Association, co-founded the National Dance Teachers Guild and taught methodology in teaching dance to children in Adelphi’s dance department. In 1995, at the age of 93, she was honored with a lifetime achievement award as a chief pioneer in dance/movement therapy at the American Dance Therapy Association’s 30th annual convention.

Playwright/actress Skala has performed “A Time to Dance” at The New York International Fringe Festival, in Vancouver as part of the 25th anniversary season of Pacific Theatre, in Germany at TU Dresden and Theater im Greenhouse in Berlin and at the London Fringe Theatre Festival, where she won the “Best Solo Performer” Award. The show also has received an award from The Pandella Cultural Fund in Switzerland. The New York Times wrote, “Ms. Skala’s convincing portrayal is the reason Polk is brought to life with such vibrancy.”

Her non-solo work includes the role of Viola in the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival's production of “Twelfth Night” and Jeffrey Sweet’s “Value of Names” at Theatre J in Washington, D.C. She appeared with Nicole Kidman in the film “Birth.”

The running time is 70 minutes. The show is presented free of charge through the generosity of the Charles Sullivan Fund for the Arts and Humanities, which was created in honor of retired longtime CCRI professor, CCRI Hall of Fame inductee and arts advocate Charles Sullivan. The fund supports a variety of cultural opportunities at the community college’s four campuses.

For more information about the show, visit

For further information, please contact Leigh Martin, Fund Director.

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Last Updated: 3/14/18